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This paper focuses on the initial “spark” of the design process, in which Drawing, Image, Language intertwine and/or prevail over each other. The possible and ideal meeting point of these three concepts has been identified and recreated within the International Competition IBA 84; which represents a suitable model for comparing different strategies; personalities; and design methods. The designers, carrying out a series of rational and poetic researches in areas often apparently detached from architecture such as philosophy, art, music and literature, need a medium that gives shape to their concept. This medium can be recognized in the representation. Aim of the research is to highlight the relationships between project concept and representation techniques.
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Proceedings 2017, 1, 965; doi:10.3390/proceedings1090965 www.mdpi.com/journal/proceedings
Proceedings
Drawing Image Language. Three Authors for IBA 84
Roberta Spallone 1,* and Giulia Bertola 2
1 Department of Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino, 10129 Torino, Italy
2 Architect, 10100 Torino, Italy; giulia.bertola88@gmail.com
* Correspondence: roberta.spallone@polito.it; Tel.: +39-011-0904379
Presented at the International and Interdisciplinary Conference IMMAGINI? Image and Imagination
between Representation, Communication, Education and Psychology, Brixen, Italy, 27–28 November 2017.
Published: 24 November 2017
Abstract: This paper focuses on the initial “spark” of the design process, in which Drawing, Image,
Language intertwine and/or prevail over each other. The possible and ideal meeting point of these
three concepts has been identified and recreated within the International Competition IBA 84;
which represents a suitable model for comparing different strategies; personalities; and design
methods. The designers, carrying out a series of rational and poetic researches in areas often
apparently detached from architecture such as philosophy, art, music and literature, need a
medium that gives shape to their concept. This medium can be recognized in the representation.
Aim of the research is to highlight the relationships between project concept and representation
techniques.
Keywords: inventive drawing; design drawing; project; representation; technique of representation;
drawing; photo-montage; collage-montage; layering
1. Introduction
“I aimed the fidelity of thoughts so that, clearly generated by the observation of things, they
turned, almost spontaneous, in the acts of my art … what I think can be done, and what I do is
intelligible” [1] (p. 18).
Each architect, in order to formulate a design solution (the idea), relies on the most varied
means, carrying out a series of rational and poetic researches in areas often apparently detached
from architecture such as philosophy, art, music and literature.
The medium that gives shape and express these concepts is the representation.
During this phase, the architect made different type of design documents: some represent the
designer’s dialogue with himself (representation as introspection or autograph representation)—i.e.,
sketches, scale model, photo collage, renders and currently, thanks to the tools offered by the digital
revolution, also the writing of generative algorithms; others, in which the representation, nowadays
flanked by digital models, animations, immersive experiences, become the mean of communication
between the designer and the mankind (representation as communication or representation
addressed to others).
Generally, the phase of the representation is the heuristic moment of the project in which the
architect, free of budget, program and politics constraints, draws signs in a fast and instinctive way,
shapes real or digital forms, develops and composes images and photographs that contain what the
project will be, what it will not be, what it could have been and all the references accumulated over
time in his mind.
The gradual reworked version of these first representations will lead to a clearer and more
precise definition of the project. The distance between architectural thinking and its ambition to
become reality can gradually decrease.
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This paper focuses on the initial “spark” of the design process, in which Drawing, Image,
Language intertwine and/or prevail over each other.
The possible and ideal meeting point of the three concepts has been identified and recreated
within the International Competition IBA 84, which represents a suitable model for comparing
different strategies, personalities and design methods.
In this context, there are three architects, Aldo Rossi, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman, called
with others to carry out a series of concrete interventions for the “critical reconstruction” of the city
of Berlin, that seem to be able to embody, with their poetry, each of the three concepts.
The three different design approaches that emerge are: the emotional approach of Aldo Rossi,
in which reference models belong to a dreamed and metaphysical world, that enhances emotions,
recalls and memory; the programmatic method of Rem Koolhaas, where what really matters are the
current events and the response to the needs of the global community; and finally, the theoretician
approach of Peter Eisenman in which concepts of Existentialism are applied to architecture.
The graphic works produced by the three authors in response to the competition requests
concern the communication scope. The analysis and the critical synthesis of their proposals for IBA
84 carried out by the authors are based on the study of their theoretical assumptions and their
speculative and professional career, using the tools of representation suggested by the cognitive
path practiced on each of the three: the drawing, the collage-montage, and the layering.
As it will see Drawing, Image, Language affirmed themselves in their specifics and in their
dialectical relationship.
2. Finding the Scenario: The Critical Reconstruction of Berlin City
Since 1974, the German architect Joseph Paul Kleihues, directed and organized an important
international architecture exhibition in Berlin: the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA), that aims to
carry out a series of interventions, real and exemplary, proposed by the most important
contemporary architects and emerging young people.
In particular, IBA 84, according to Kleihues, focuses on the “critical reconstruction of the city”
[2] (p. 129) that in his vision must resume and re-propose the urban form of the traditional city.
The postmodernist theories—claimed in the second half of the Seventies, through the thought
of the architects: Vittorio Gregotti, the brothers Leon and Rob Krier and the same Kleihues—join the
analysis of the space of the traditional European city and the quit mimetic reproposal of the forms
that characterized it. The street, the square and, above all, the perimeter plot are the protagonists of
master plans and urban projects of that architectural movement.
As Cassetti remembers “in the 1980s Berlin became a real international forum for debate on the
space rules that so far had ruled the composition of the city and the discussion of the Modernism’s
fundamentals” [3] (p. 120). Kleihues and Siedler, having started and directed the debate since 1977
on the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, in IBA 84 promoted a unitary plan for the Innerstadt.
IBA 84 propose to take on the oldest parts of West Berlin, partially destroyed by the war and
later overlooked by urban planning or modified according to the principles of the Modernism,
considered by Kleihues just as destructive.
The Exhibition becomes a great and ambitious attempt to renew the traditional city, to
rehabilitate or rebuild the blocks, to restore or redesign them. The aim is to modify the traditional
city to make it adapted to the new housing needs. The IBA 84’s subtitle is indeed “Living in the City
Center”.
Rossi, Koolhaas and Eisenman work with others in the Südliche Friedrichstadt area, one among
the many intervention area proposed by the competition.
This homogeneous part of the city is characterized by a dense regular network of streets and a
constant repetition of perimeter blocks.
Despite post-war up reconstruction, Kleihues was able to read the original plan’s strength with
a view to rebuild it through the proposals of the competitors, who are asked to project on a
circumscribed intervention to the size of the block.
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In the call there are two essential rules: the continuity of the urban alignment and the size of the
road network and the reconstruction of continuous façades in the perimeter blocks.
3. Poetics and Design Techniques: Three Comparing Masters
In this scenario, among many participants, were compared the designing processes of three
architects: Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman and Aldo Rossi.
The survey focuses about why, three different personalities can coexist within the same context,
giving answers and using different design approaches, compositional choices and architectural
poetry. In particular, the analysis is based on the interweaving between the poetry and the design
techniques used by the three to bring out, express and communicate their idea about the critical
reconstruction of the Berlin center.
All three have in common a rich and intense theoretical activity that led them to important
texts’ publication, real milestones of architectural thinking, from the Sixties of the Twentieth century.
Their ideologies deeply influenced their design choices.
3.1. Aldo Rossi, the Drawing for the Expression of the Concept of Architecture
“The most important thing in the work of an architect is to give an idea: … Architecture born
from a image, a precise image that has fallen deep within ourselves and that translates precisely into
drawing and construction. The most important moment is really the idea of architecture. Only when
you have this idea you can begin to draw it and, therefore, to perfect it” [4] (p. 116).
For the residential unit at the corner between Kochstraße and Wilhelmstraße, Aldo Rossi starts
a careful study and a selection process of pre-existing models in the Berlin architectural tradition by
looking for the founding element of the site. This element is named “genius loci”, where the locus is
“the singular and universal relationship which exists between a certain local situation and the
buildings that are in that place” [5] (p. 139).
He pays particular attention on the road axis’s restoration, taken as an ordinating element, on
the buildings average height along Friedrichstraße, important for the achievement of the perspective
continuity, on the recurrent architectural elements and on the typical building materials.
The building of Aldo Rossi is characterized by a strict geometric composition in which
transparent glass glazed bodies shall be alternated to opaque brick parallelepipeds with regular
square windows.
The porches on the ground floor and the accesses to the internal courtyards make the building
permeable. As in the past architectures, this allows to see the inner courtyards from the street.
The façade is rhythmic by the pitched roofs realized with green copper and the triangular
pediment placed on the bodies of vertical distribution. These elements contribute to spice up the
façade, breaking up the horizontality of the cornice.
A massive white column on the ground breaks the edge of the building, making it recognizable
into the urban fabric (Figures 1 and 2).
Figure 1. Aldo Rossi, plate for IBA 84. Sketch of the building at the corner between Kochstraße and
Wilhelmstraße, Block 10, 1981.
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Figure 2. Aldo Rossi, plate for IBA 84. Plan and axonometry on Wilhelmstraße, Block 10, 1981.
In Aldo Rossi’s theory, the architecture must be transformed into a positive science serving the
community; the city is an artifact, a work that grows and changes over time, to be examined and
analyzed by parts. Each element, if classified and cataloged, can lead to the idea, to the drawing and
to the construction [6] (pp. 92–93).
In the design process, knowledge and objectivity are insufficient if not alongside a subjective
approach that takes into account emotions, experiences, recalls and personal memories. In his
drawings, influenced by the metaphysical painting of De Chirico, Carrà, Morandi and American
artists such as Hopper and Rauschenberg, the architectures are made as geometric primitives
(parallelepipeds, pyramids, cylinders, cones, spheres) and combined with flat figures (squares like
windows, triangles like pediments). Between them appear old tapestries, coffee makers, cigarette
packs, Coca Cola cans … and other elements from literature, cinema and photography.
Thanks to the combination of these elements within its sketches and preliminary drawings, his
architectural compositions and concept of space take on a meaning, becoming the essence of his
architecture.
The expressive intensity of these drawings is made up by strong color contrasts and by the wise
use of the pictorial techniques such as tempera, wax, engraving, collage and dense china textures,
used to give a perceptual effect and to suggest the possibility of building the object.
In his metaphysical compositions, made of flat figures and elementary geometric shapes
combined with architectural elements—cones, cubes and cylinders that become chimneys, squares,
and theaters—already stays the main thrust of the project (Figure 3).
Aldo Rossi, in fact, states: “I have always a short period of meditation on the project: I try to
bring back a core of impressions: it is what is developing. I don’t usually modify my projects, I think
it never happened. My first sketches are extremely similar to the final project. During the first part of
the design process, graphic communication is very important to me” [7] (p. 17).
Maybe it is for this reason that the master submits among the required competition materials
for IBA 84, his sketches along with the final drawings.
The importance of the drawing in Aldo Rossi’s design process brought to consider the re-draw,
intended as a critical retrace of the project, the most effective representation system aimed to the
analysis.
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Figure 3. Aldo Rossi, sketches. Collage by Giulia Bertola.
To obtain a more precise reading of Aldo Rossi’s IBA 84 project, reproductions, reflections,
re-workings, compositions—all inspired by Aldo Rossi’s drawings and texts pages—have been
gathered in a sketchbook. It was a good way to investigate the overall work, coming to a
comprehensive reading of the project for IBA 84 (Figure 4). Drawings made of a colored pencils and
oil pastels on drawing paper allow Aldo Rossi to approach manual practice: the hand that lays the
pen on the paper, leaving measurements, proportions and rulers, and makes spontaneous and
instinctive signs emphasized by the use of color, almost as if the intention was to compose parallel
worlds, childish illustrations, and memories that each of us carries within himself.
Going beyond the reading of texts and trying to fall into these gestural practices allowed,
during the study phase, to achieve in a more direct and incisive way to a deeper understanding of
his “making architecture”.
Figure 4. Giulia Bertola, interpretative sketches of Aldo Rossi’s drawings.
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3.2. Rem Koolhaas, the Image to Redefine the Project Idea
“Berlin is a lab, its territory is defined and for political reasons it cannot be reduced. The
population, from the wall construction, is steadily declining. So few people occupies this
metropolitan territory. Many parts of the city are in ruin because they don’t meet the people needs”
[8] (p. 157).
Rem Koolhaas is present in two projects for IBA 84: one on the four blocks on the corner
between Kochstraße and Friedrichstraße; the other, supervised by his partner Elia Zenghelis, in
Lutzowstraße.
The first one, unrealized, is the subject of the current analysis.
Koolhaas is in contrast with the terms of the call; he contests the city model proposed and puts
the focus on elements overlooked.
He states that “the wealth of the city of Berlin born from the experimental succession of various
models: neoclassical city, metropolis in formation, cradle of Modernism, capital of Nazism, victim of
war, Lazarus, battlefield of Cold War” [9] (p. 154).
He refuses the Kleihues’s reference to a single city model: the Nineteenth century traditional
city. His proposal, attentive to the present, is an architecture that meets the needs of the global
community.
In the bird’s eye view that presents his proposal for intervention, he recovers suggestions
excluded from the call: the voids made by the bombings, the post-war reconstructions and, above all,
the Wall, which encloses and divides the city and the architecture of Berlin.
The architect also introduces two Modern Movement’s unrealized projects: the skyscraper by
Mies van der Rohe in Friedrichstraße (1921), the block-building complex on the same street by
Ludwig Hilberseimer (1928), and a partially completed building, the seat of the German Metallurgic
Federation, by Erich Mendelsohn, in the nearby Lindenstraße (1928–1929).
This plate exalts the value of the plan, kind of representation in the center of attention by the
Modern Movement. In the same way, the following drawings, that define the functional program for
the four plots, start from the undeformed plan from which the three-dimensionality of the artifacts is
developed in axonometry (Figure 5).
(a) (b)
Figure 5. Rem Koolhaas, OMA, plates for IBA 84. (a) Bird’s eye view; (b) Axonometric view of Blocks
4, 5, 10, 11, 1980.
The architect in the project overlooks the indications of the call: in one of the blocks doesn’t
respect the perimeter edification and puts freely all the buildings inside the lot; in another block
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proposes courtyard houses with a different height compared to the existing buildings, that become
“post-war wrecks” [8] (p. 50). These houses also create a series of walls: a symbolic reflection of the
Berlin Wall. The Wall, shouldn’t be demolished and turned into a park band with Zen sculptures
with villas around it (Figure 6).
(a) (b)(c)(d)
Figure 6. Rem Koolhaas and the Wall. (a) Photo from S, M, L, XL, 1977; (b) Photo-montage from
Exodus, 1972; (c) Allotments, from Exodus, 1972; (d) Photo-montage from Exodus, 1972.
He observes thatIBA erases this evidence by destroying, in the name of history, the very
evidence of destruction itself, which is perhaps the most significant fact of the city’s history, not to
mention its aesthetics” [10] (p. 154).
Under IBA 84, Koolhaas’s focus on the Wall, a symbol a Cold War having a strong emotional,
social and cultural impact throughout the world, resumes the subject of his 1971 Summer Study
“Berlin Wall as Architecture”. The Wall becomes a symbolic element that cuts houses, streets and
squares like the razor cutting the woman’s eye in the movie “Un chien andalou” by Buñuel and Dalí.
In the following year, 1972, the Utopian project “Exodus, or the voluntary Prisoners of
Architecture” conducted with Zenghelis in response to the competition “The City as a Significant
Environment” promoted by the Association for Industrial Design in collaboration with Casabella,
develops a proposal that overrides the meaning of the Wall.
Exodus is an ideal city structure, designed for the center of London, where the “intense and
devastating force” [11] (p. 7) of the Wall is used for positive purposes: two parallel walls enclose a
system of articulated squares where different activities take place, attracting the exodus of the
population from the historic city.
As in his theoretical writings, also regarding the Wall, Koolhaas shows his distance from
drawing as a mean of representation, to the point of delegating to his wife the drawing of plates.
Meanwhile he produces a series of images that shows his tendency to use photo-montage to express
his concepts, thoughts, positions and messages to the mass. These collage-compositions of drawings,
photographs, newspaper clippings correspond to the concept expressed by Salvador Dalì in 1963, of
“paranoid critical interpretation” [12] (p. 190) as they arise from the agitation of the author’s
unconscious, his paranoia, and can only take shape by the rationalization of delirium through the
critical moment.
Engaged in the fields of theater, cinema, painting and fashion, as well as architecture and
architectural theory, its communication techniques are influenced by Russian Constructivism, where
art assumes the value of information, and Pop Art, with its critical rehabilitation of media, icons and
phenomena present in the mass imagery: advertising, comic, consumer goods, and star portraits.
Two main elaborations featured the analysis and synthesis of Koolhaas’s design motives for IBA 84.
The first one is a manual collage, a study tool made of images drawn from the historical, artistic,
political, social, and architectural context in which IBA 84 is inserted. In order to understand the
design practice of Koolhaas it was necessary to fit into this context by neglecting the rules issued by
the call and gathering images, information, and articles that can influence on it (Figure 7).
The second one is a digital collage that repurposes the page of a real newspaper, with different
titles sizes (to emphasize the priority of various informations) and slogans to briefly explain the
images of current events or artistic movements that are powerful on the people. The story of his
work was interpreted as a set of newspaper articles, able to form a unitary speech (Figure 8).
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Figure 7. Giulia Bertola, Analytic interpretative collage of Koolhaas’s competition entry for IBA 84.
Figure 8. Giulia Bertola, Synthetic interpretative collage of Koolhaas’s competition entry for IBA 84.
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3.3. Peter Eisenman, the Language for Building the Design Process
“A diagram can be seen in architecture as a dual system that works as a writing instrument both
in the exterior and in the interior of the architecture and in relation to the requirements of a specific
project … the diagram acts on a surface receiving inscriptions from memory of what still does not
exist, that is, the memory of a potential architectural object ... the diagram works as an agent that
focuses on the relationship between an author subject, an architect and a recipient subject, this is the
layer between them” [13] (p. 200).
Peter Eisenman deals with the theme of residential building on the corner between Kochstraße
and Friedrichstraße, next to the Wall, a few meters from Checkpoint Charlie. He states that “our
strategy was twofold. Our first aim was to highlight the particular story of the place, which meant to
give visibility to its specific memories, to recognize that at some point this was a very specific place.
The second was to recognize that today Berlin belongs to the world in the broadest sense of the
word” [14] (p. 74).
The project is set up on different levels to which different historical tissues correspond to: the
Eighteenth-century wall, the Nineteenth-century foundations, the Twentieth century streets network
and the Wall.
They run from bottom to top to create the building. The purpose is to refer not only to the urban
plots of ancient Berlin, but also to a wider plot that goes beyond the other: the grid of Mercator [14]
(p. 108), conceptually linking Berlin to the universe. This grid initially engages the historic axis of the
Friedrichstraße, but as it progresses, it becomes more and more an autonomous element rising to a
height equal to that of the Wall, reducing its importance.
Eisenman tends to favor the urban mesh and the internal intersections, focusing on corner
spaces. These form an L shape with a rotation symmetry set at the vertex. This system, used from the
plan, spreads to the elevations. The L shapes move back and forth along vertical planes creating
overlaps and cancellations [14] (pp. 104–108).
The relationships with the context arise through the recovery of the Nineteenth-century fabric
in the shape of the building, whose mesh is rotated by 15° compared to the current one. In this way,
the architect can summon the place’s properties without resorting to camouflage architecture
(Figure 9).
(a) (b)
Figure 9. Peter Eisenman, plates for IBA 84. (a) Plan view of Block 5; (b) Sketches, 1981.
As Aureli, Biraghi and Purini point out, in this project Eisenman attempt to confront the context
and the themes related to place, memory and collective values.
With regard to the first two, he reasons on the concept of ‘archaeological digs’ aimed at
dissecting the stories of the places and discovering their old abandoned geometries by using the
blueprint, a graphical tool consisting of space lattices (complex layered and overlapping grids
similar to medieval palimpsests). The textures and the lattices must re-emerge thanks to an
excavation process. In fact, he acts as “an archaeologist who, with his imagination, digs into the
place and tries to understand the past and reinterpret it” [15] (p. 104).
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Concerning the collective values, the architect adopts the instrument of metaphor: architecture,
while retaining its abstract value in the relationship between sign and meaning, becomes capable of
narrating a story; a metaphorical process that becomes for him a real way to build [15] (p. 34).
The tear found at the intersection between Kochstraße and Friedrichstraße and the intersection
between the latter and the Wall become visible “both in the paths with which the elevation is shaped
and in the dynamic fragmentation of the masses” [15] (p. 34).
The design method of Peter Eisenman uses a theoretical approach that applies the concepts of
philosophers such as Noam Chomsky and Jacques Deridda to architecture, and is influenced by
Conceptual Art and Minimal Art, with particular reference to Joseph Kosuth’s and Sol Le Witt’s
thinking.
Approaching Chomsky’s linguistics involves the assumption of the concept of architecture as a
text whose references can be found within architectural logic and, at the same time, deployed within
other systems of thought [15] (pp. 10–11). In this sense, images, signs and shapes can be translated
into words.
The attention to the design process emerges in his work: the project is explained through the
sequence within the time that generated it. The object alone does not communicate the intentions.
One of the tools to make ideas visible while leaving a trace of the project process is identified in the
diagram.
The diagram, understood as a “set of lines and paths … serves to clarify a meaning, to
demonstrate an affirmation, to represent the occurrence or the outcome of any kind of action or
process” [16] (p. 19). Eisenman’s diagrams are axonometries that illustrate the evolutionary and
generative steps of the work.
The diagram emerges as a project design tool also in the IBA 84 plates, allowing the author to
relate the stratification of the road networks emerged from the ‘archaeological excavation'
operations, with the new proposal (Figure 10).
Figure 10. Peter Eisenman, plate for IBA 84. Study diagrams.
For the interpretation of IBA 84 project, we have used a set of layers that overlap each other to
determine a complete picture of all elements, which are the foundation of his design philosophy. The
interpretation using the layers also allowed dividing the stages of his design path. These stages are
determining to investigate the approach he takes in the IBA 84 competition (Figure 11). Once
collected, the information has been reported on the graph paper, a useful method to have a ruler
element (the square) that conveys the tracking of the signs (sketches and notes); then others
information have been added through the use of acetate paper.
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At a later stage, such information was digitalized and printed on a glossy paper: each page
represents a part of the manuscript and a specific issue; overlapping them with the others, they go to
add information and meaning and the speech takes shape in its entirety.
The architect decides according to his will as a means of representation to use. The goal is to
best express his design intentions. Every method of representation is the result of the importance of
design research.
Figure 11. Giulia Bertola, Layering and synthetic interpretative plate of Eisenman’s competition
entry for IBA 84.
3. Conclusions
As we have seen, by taking the Architectural Competition as the ideal place for convergence of
different design strategies, it is possible to analyze different proposals, retracing the theoretical
training path and the experiences of different masters, using to the critical filter of the relationships
between project and representation. In this sense, the techniques of representation, influenced by the
multifaceted artistic experiences of the three architects examined, manifest their own not-neutrality
with regard to the processuality of the project. In fact, the representation techniques intertwine with
the design process, becoming a powerful heuristic instrument.
The analysis of the presented projects proposed subjective hypotheses aimed at revealing
motives, objectives, values and design meanings, using the techniques suggested by an in-depth
knowledge of the cultural substrate of the three masters.
The keywords identified to define different strategies: Drawing for Aldo Rossi, Image for Rem
Koolhaas, Language for Peter Eisenman, are the ideal fil rouge between design poetics and carefully
selected interpretative tools.
Author Contributions: This paper originates from the subject of thesis in Science of Architecture, presented by
Giulia Bertola at the Politecnico di Torino in 2011, under the guidance, as supervisor, by Roberta Spallone. A
series of meetings, interviews, exchanges of opinions and insights in the following years led to the joint writing
of this essay.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Il testo che segue rappresenta una versione "diversa" rispetto a quella successivamente pubblicata. Qui sono presenti dei brani che per ragioni di spazio o per ripensamenti dell'autore sono stati omessi nella versione a stampa. Questa versione (evidentemente né sostitutiva, né alternativa rispetto al libro successivamente più volte ristampato dalle Edizioni Testo&Immagine) corrisponde a un modo di intendere la pubblicazione su Internet. Un pubblicare più personale, in fondo più nascosto rispetto a quella a stampa.
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